Hillsboro progresses in discussion to help fund Hillsboro Senior Center

At a meeting on Dec. 13, the Hillsboro City Council followed up their discussion to the Nov. 15 meeting where they asked City Administrator Matt Stiles to determine if the city could provide $10,000 in annual funding to support the Hillsboro Senior Center’s operations.

Stiles said, “While the city has denied similar requests in the past, the current environment and composition of the senior center makes fundraising more difficult than in the past.”

The discussion kicked off with comments from Hillsboro Senior Center Board member Jared Jost

“We at the Hillsboro Senior Center just wanted to thank you for your consideration and the nice conversation we were able to have from that meeting last time. We were able to get some things from some different places to help the senior center but beyond that, thank you for however this turns out. Thank you for your consideration,” said Jost.

“What has changed for fundraising for the senior center?” asked Council member Brent Driggers.

“The fundraising piece has always been pretty constant in being the same. it’s just that the senior center has always struggled to do that because the people are so elderly,” said Jost. “Some things that are new is that we will be establishing some endowment. Inflation keeps going up and yet the funding pieces from the government entities have not kept up with inflation so it just keeps getting harder to fulfill that obligation.”

Stiles said that he reviewed the operating budget and looked at some places where this could come from.

“A $10,000 annual contribution obviously wasn’t in for the ’23 budget, but I think we can make some changes and amendments to make that work. The most obvious place is the general fund. It’s the least restrictive. I think we had mentioned maybe taking it from other funds or maybe making it a direct tax,” said Stiles. “But I think the cleanest and easiest way to do it would through the general fund. For ’23, we did allocate $33,980 for community improvement project. Usually what those are is the senior government projects but not necessarily. We’ve done other projects out of there to improve those.”

He recommended to the council that they take the $10,000 from there which would drop the expenditures available for the senior government class projects to $23,980 “which is still a lot more than we had in the past for that but not as much as we did allocate”. Stiles said that the leftover amount is still a functional amount for those projects.

“And based on what we’ve seen with them is a lot of those that end up going and finding additional funds in other pots too so it doesn’t end up all coming from the general fund,” said Stiles.

He also explained that reallocating those funds wouldn’t have any tax impact this year. But for outgoing years, there may be some impact.

“It just depends on how we prioritize that. What I would recommend is that we would want to put together some sort of agreement with the senior center. It doesn’t have to be super intense but we would need some parameters on it such as our expectations and spelling out the details of the agreement. I don’t know enough about the operating details of the senior center yet to know what those would need to be,” said Stiles.

He told the council that the first step would be to authorize himself and City Attorney Andrew Kovar, to talk more and develop an agreement with the senior center. They would then bring that back to the council in a future meeting.

“Don’t we need to be careful when talking about future funding to not tie the hands of any future council?” asked Driggers.

“You absolutely do so that would be something we would need to do with the agreement. It would be subject to annual appropriations,” said Stiles.

“So you can make it annual with an out clause,” said Driggers.

“Yes, you would have to structure it in a way that it would have to come before you every year. whether that means it comes up in front of you automatically when it comes to budget or it just comes in front of you specifically. We can work through what you want to do on that. That’s all possible but you are right. You would have to approve it every year,” said Kovar. “And I want to be clear it would not be restricting the mill levy or increasing it in any way.”

“I like the idea of this but I’m a little concerned about saying we are committing to it every year moving forward. Just from being in a situation where maybe we couldn’t do it every single year.,” said Driggers.

“That absolutely would be a possibility. The budgeting process would help with that,” said Stiles.

The council voted unanimously to direct the city administrator and city attorney to develop an agreement with the senior center.

In other business, the council:

* heard from Brooke Carroll of KPP Energy about the recent Electric Rate Study for the City of Hillsboro. She highlighted the projected revenues and expenses, customer analysis and the minimum cash reserve goals for the electric fund. Carroll also noted two approaches the city could take to raise rates and meet the minimum reserve goals. For more specific information on this, please view the reports provided by Carrol at https://www.cityofhillsboro.net/city-council/agenda/december-13-2022-agenda-packet.

“Overall, I think what you are sitting on isn’t a bad situation. There are some decisions to make, but overall, Hillsboro is looking pretty good,” said Carroll.

The council discussed the last rate change and the options described by Carroll and directed City Administrator Matt Stiles to develop three possible scenarios for rate increases for the council to review.

* discussed Ordinance 1361 which allows the property at 208 West B Street to be used for a Bed and Breakfast under a conditional use permit. The property at 208 West B Street is a single-family home located between Ash and Birch and is owned by Ronald and Denaye Dies of Lehigh.

There was discussion about continuing to allow bed and breakfast permits when there is a need for more housing. Stiles pointed out that this is a valid concern as there have been four such permits issued since 2020. However the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the conditional use permit. The ordinance was approved.

Stiles followed up with the council from the Oct. 4 meeting when they approved a cost-sharing agreement with Barkman Honey for needed improvements at the city lagoons directly tied to honey production waste.

Stiles said that after the approval, the city reviewed the agreement with Barkman and found some errors with the largest issue of the original agreement being that it was based on cost estimates that included a monitoring system on Barkman’s property. According to Stiles, the estimates used should have been converted to the actual costs since the solution to avoid a monitoring station was not taken into account in those estimates.

The proposed revised agreement with Barkman Honey reduces the company’s cost from $125,028 to $93,759 resulting from the monitoring station being removed and actual costs being applied. The term of repayment remains three years. An easement included in the first agreement for the monitoring station was also deleted. All other terms and conditions remain the same. The new agreement was approved.

* learned that Marion County received an application for a conditional use permit to operate a business to modify new and recycled shipping containers for housing at 1803 Indigo at the NW corner of Indigo and 180th. The County Planning Department provided a courtesy notification two weeks before the proposed public hearing on Dec. 1. Stiles explained that upon receiving and reviewing the materials several questions were raised. The county opted to delay the proposed public hearing on the permit from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22 to give the city adequate time to respond. Stiles shared negative feedback received from residents in the area and from the City of Hillsboro’s Planning Commission related to this matter. There was much discussion regarding the potential negative impact on Hillsboro and safety issues related to traffic. The council also discussed the availability of other property that is zoned for industrial use. They chose to recommend denial of the permit which means it can only move forward by a resolution approved by a 4 of 5 votes by the Marion County Commission. The council will submit a written recommendation to deny the proposed conditional use application to the Marion County Planning Commission.

* heard of the need for an additional position to serve the golf and recreation departments. The position would report to the Golf Superintendent. Stiles noted the contract mowing for these areas would be eliminated to offset the cost of this position. The position was approved.

For more detailed information on the above topics and more, council agendas and reports are available online on the city’s website at https://www.cityofhillsboro.net/node/691/agenda.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

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